Best matchup: Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson vs. Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason. Jackson has struggled in recent weeks with 10 catches and 158 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games. He will need to beat one of the Pac-10's best cornerbacks to get out of his slump.
Worst matchup: Stanford at Washington. After a 4-1 start, the Huskies have lost five in a row to put their bowl hopes in jeopardy. Stanford is among the worst teams in the country. Someone has to win this game. You just don't want to be around to see it.
The pressure is on: Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon. The Ducks quarterback is barely holding on to the starting job. Dixon is 39 of 68 for 364 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions in his last three games. He could keep Brady Leaf on the bench with a strong outing against USC.
Upset alert: Arizona State is a slight underdog at home against Washington State. The Sun Devils are in desperation mode, and the Cougars flopped at home against Arizona. Arizona State needs to win this game for bowl eligibility.
Most to gain: Oregon State. The Beavers could pick up their seventh win of the season, making them bowl eligible and giving them a chance for third place in the Pac-10. Oregon State is riding a four-game winning streak that could extend to six. The Beavers face free-falling UCLA and winless Stanford before heading into a home game against Oregon.
Most to lose: Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter. The Sun Devils will have to win out with games remaining against Washington State, UCLA and Arizona to salvage their season. At the beginning of the year, many expected the Devils would have a chance at a conference title. Now, a bowl game isn't a guarantee. Koetter will need his team to regroup to keep any job security.
Who's hot: Cal against Mike Stoops. The Bears have outscored the Arizona coach 66-0 in two games.
Who's not: Cal's defense. Despite winning the last two games, the Bears allowed 516 yards to UCLA and 446 yards to Washington. Cal is now ninth in the conference and 97th in the country in total defense.
Must see TV: No. 21 Oregon (7-2, 4-2) at No. 7 USC (7-1, 5-1), 10:15 p.m. Eastern, Fox Sports Net
Take the line: USC is a 7-point favorite at home over Oregon. Don't buy the demise of USC just yet and take the Trojans to cover against an inconsistent Oregon team. Season: 4-6
They said it: "I've got a big job, and I'm not interested. I'm excited about what's coming up and what we're doing and what's going on here."
-USC coach Pete Carroll in the Los Angeles Times when asked about speculation he will leave for the NFL.
Injury update: UCLA quarterback Ben Olson returned to practice this week after missing the last four games with a torn MCL, but backup quarterback Patrick Cowan will start against Oregon State on Saturday. … Arizona State wide receiver Nate Kimbrough is likely out for the season with a knee injury. The injury could mean a return to wide receiver for Rudy Burgess, who was moved to cornerback. The status of running back Ryan Torain (ankle) and wide receiver Terry Richardson (knee) is uncertain for this week's game against Washington State. … Oregon State is watching running backs Yvenson Bernard and Clinton Polk closely because both are recovering from sprained ankles. … USC wide receiver Chris McFoy (shoulder) returned to practice but will not be able to play against Oregon this week. … UCLA linebacker Aaron Whittington is doubtful for Oregon State after aggravating an ankle injury. … Washington defensive end Brandon Ala (elbow) is out for the season.
Worth noting: Playing in his first full game since being limited by a concussion, Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama was 10 of 17 for 159 yards with a touchdown and an interception. … In his first start since the opener, Arizona running back Chris Henry had school-record 35 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns against Washington State. … Arizona State wide receiver Jamaal Lewis has been suspended for the second time this season. … Oregon safety Patrick Chung had an interception and a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown against Washington. … USC true freshman running back Stafon Johnson ran three times for 17 yards against Stanford for his first action of the season. … Stanford's offensive production has dropped in each of its last four games: The Cardinal scored 10 points against Notre Dame, seven against Arizona, three against Arizona State and was shut out by USC last week.
Looking back: Surprise, surprise. USC rebounded with a 42-0 rout of hapless Stanford. Oregon State, who beat USC two weeks ago, continued its resurgent season with a 44-10 win over Arizona State. The other feel-good stories of the year in the Pac-10 didn't fare as well. Washington State lost to Arizona and Washington lost to Oregon.
Freshmen who impressed: Behind its three redshirt freshman offensive linemen - guard Daniel Borg, center Blake Kerley and tackle Eben Britton - Arizona had one of its better offensive games of the season in a 27-17 win over Washington State.
Bowl watch: Cal (8-1) and USC (7-1) are on course to play for the Pac-10's BCS bid when they face off Nov. 18. Oregon (7-2) and Washington State (6-4) are also bowl eligible. Oregon State (6-3) needs one more win to be eligible for the postseason thanks to its 13th game against Hawaii. Arizona State (5-4) needs one more win to become bowl eligible.